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Peace and war

When it comes to actor Kevins, Kevin Bacon, Kevin McKidd (remember him from Trainspotting?) , and even Kevin Spacey rate higher than Kevin Costner. He’s never really done it for me (whatever that ‘it’ is).  It was little wonder then that I wasn’t all that excited about treading the same ground as he did back in 1995. He was in Hawaii back in 1995 for the filming of the post-apocalyptic movie Waterworld. It was at Waipi’o Valley on the big island of Hawaii that they finally found land. In Hawaiian, Waipi’o means ‘curved water’.

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For many years, the valley was home to Hawaiian kings and their ancient grass palaces. There’s a road that leads down into the valley, open to 4WD vehicles only and from here you can access the black-sand beach. When there is rain, there are waterfalls.  No water, no falls. So I missed out. Still, though, travelling on roads that could hardly be called roads, was like going back in time. And the views were spectacular.IMG_1732 (800x598)

The valley, apparently, is also home to someViet Nam veterans who have chosen to ignore a world that doesn’t understand and can’t relate to what they’ve been through. Living rough, they hunt and fish and live off the land, hitching a ride to town occasionally for staples they can’t do without. There is no such thing as a fair war, a just war. No side is ever without fault. But it breaks my heart to think that society can be so cruel to those who have fought in its name. Perhaps I’m naive in thinking that the vast majority of soldiers enlist for a greater good, to do their part to serve and protect. I remember being horrified at the welcome the Gulf War veterans received while amputees from the Viet Nam war begged for a living on the streets of LA and suffered people spitting in their faces. To think that as a society we are all too eager to ignore the consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder saddens me.

IMG_1754 (600x800)Yes I know that atrocities are committed in the name of war. I know that heinous acts are often read as routine. I know that there are those who are guilty of abusing their uniform and rank. I know all that. And yes, I would prefer a world that wasn’t at war. [Apparently there are ten wars currently going on in the world.] But to ignore those who have fought and served in good faith; to cast them aside and through our lack of understanding and support, force them into the wilderness… that I don’t understand.

The Vietnam Veteran’s Association has among its goals to create a new identity for this generation of veterans, and to change public perception of Vietnam veterans. I wish them well.

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Down in Waipi’o valley, you’d never know that the remnants of wasted lives are be found in the trees that line the mountain sides. As kids play in the river, the image is one of peace and serenity – and yet, in the background, there are broken men whose lives are far from tranquil.  As Aristotle said: we make war so that we can live in peace.

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6 Responses

  1. Mary, another sensitive piece, but I wonder if the poor tortured men you describe are so, because they took part in a totally futile conflict, initiated solely by the American paranoia with Communism. A war that became so discredited, that those who survived, even though tragically disfigured mentally and physically, are not respectfully cared for by a society that does not wish to be reminded of the calamitous failure that it was. Not a war waged so that people could live in peace, one wonders if that isn’t equally true for the intervention in Iraq, and has all the signs of being the outcome in Afghanistan where in all probability, by the end of this decade, the Taliban will be back firmly in control.
    Not sure that the wisdom of Aristotle applies to any of today’s conflicts. If you fight with the gun, then you live with the gun, until deposed by the gun. Not often that violence breeds peace and love.
    C.M.

    1. Am sure that has a lot to do with it, Caroline. What saddens/sickens me though is how society treats them – it’s not like they’re the ones who started the war or made the decisions that took the USA to VietNam. For the most part, they lived to serve. Talks in the USA right now about teachers bringing guns to schools makes me wonder how long it will be before a different kind of war errupts.

  2. I appreciate Mary’s separation of politics and war, which are a country’s political decisions, from the work of soldiers, their energy, lives, and often lifelong devastation. I agree with Caroline that these have mostly been very poor decisions, not only for the people of the USA, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, but for all of humanity and the Earth. Today, I will follow and feel Mary’s focus on these individuals and families as a peacefully strident description of the particular sadness of this war.

    1. In LAX today, I heard an announcement for the troops about a special complimentary VIP area – and the man announcing thanked and saluted them for their service. How different the treatment US soldiers get today – for what is, to my mind, an equally fruitless war.

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